Trump blames 'both sides' for Charlottesville violence

US President Donald Trump has insisted that both sides were to blame for the violence, which rocked the city in Virginia

16 August 2017, 8:14am
US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump has insisted that both sides were to blame for the violent unrest, which rocked the city in Virginia, leaving one dead and 19 others injured.

The incident broke out during a weekend rally by white nationalists in Virginia, culminating with white nationalist James Alex Fields Jr allegedly driving his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, killing Heather Heyer.

Trump, who drew sharp criticism from Republicans and Democrats for his initial response, reverted on Tuesday to his position that both sides were at fault for the violence, a day after bowing to pressure to explicitly condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Appearing angry and irritated, the president maintained that his original reaction was based on the facts he had at the time. Blame, he said, belonged on both sides.

"You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now," Trump said, referring to right- and left-wing protesters.

"What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? (...) There are two sides to a story."

When asked why he waited until yesterday to condemn hate groups present in Charlottesville, Trump said he wanted to be careful not to make a "quick statement" without all the facts.

"Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch," Trump said of the participants in the deadly protest. "There was a group on this side. You can call them the left ... that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is."

He called the suspected Nazi sympathiser a "disgrace to himself, his family and this country."

The violence erupted on Saturday after white nationalists converged in Charlottesville for a "Unite the Right" rally in protest of plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army during the US Civil War.